Dream of a Black Fox
The black fox loped out of the hills
And circled for several hours,
Eyes bright with menace, teeth
White in the light, tail dragging the ground.
The woman in my arms cringed with fear,
Collapsed crying, her head hurting my neck.
She became dumb fear.
The black fox, big as a pony,
Circled and circled,
Torment dripping like saliva from its jaws
Too afraid to show my fear,
I watched it as it circled;
Then it leaped across me
Its great black body breaking the air,
Landing on a wall above my head.
Turning then, it looked at me.
And I saw it was magnificent,
Ruling the darkness, lord of its element,
Scorning all who are afraid,
Seeming even to smile
At human pettiness and fear.
The woman in my arms looked up
At this lord of darkness
And as quickly hid her head again.
Then the fox turned and was gone
Leaving us with fear
And safety -
Every usual illusion.
Quiet now, no longer trembling,
She lay in my arms,
Still as a sleeping child.
I knew I had seen fear,
Fear dispelled by what makes fear
A part of pure creation.
It might have taught me
Mastery of myself,
Dominion over death,
But was content to leap
With ease and majesty
Across the valleys and the hills of sleep.
from A Time for Voices: Selected Poems 1960-1990 (Bloodaxe, 1990), copyright © Brendan Kennelly 1990, used by permission of the author and Bloodaxe Books Ltd.